By Michael Snyder
- Warren Buffett
Editor's note: "The last three years have decimated the middle class, leaving behind a trail of foreclosures, joblessness and devastated wealth. To illustrate the range of suffering, Michael Snyder, editor of editor of The Economic Collapse blog, assembled a collection of statistics that paint a full picture of the crisis. The figures below measure both the impact of the recession and the aftermath. For example, not only did household wealth decline 25% during the recession, but also foreclosures and bankruptcies have continued to steamroll average families even as the economy has grown for more than a year.
As you read this, millions of parents across the country are trying to explain to their children why their homes are being taken away. Even more are waiting to hear from hundreds of resumes sent into an economy that's barely producing jobs. Many cities are dealing with housing vacancies and unemployment not seen in decades.
The average American family is under more economic stress right now than at any other time since the Great Depression. Here are 16 statistics that explain how and why:
33% of Men Don't Have Jobs: Last year, just 66.8% of the U.S. male population was employed. This was the lowest figure on record, the combination of a bad economy and an aging population.
74% of Americans Will Buy Less: Seventy four percent of Americans will slow down their spending in coming months due to rising prices on everything from corn to gas. Food and energy inflation could be one of the major economic issues of 2011.
Gas Up Nearly $1 This Year: The price of U.S. crude oil has risen $20 a barrel over the last two months, and the price of gas has nearly jumped from $3 a gallon to $4 a gallon this year.
Property Tax Creep: In 2005 the median property tax on a home in the United States was $1,614. It's now $1,917, Bloomberg BusinessWeek reported. In 2010, while corporate income taxes fell across the country, total state and local tax revenue actually increased nearly 16 percent.
8 Million Americans Behind on Mortgage: A March 2011 poll found that a third of homeowners owe more on their mortgage than their house is worth. Another 53 percent said their homes are now worth more than the money they borrowed to buy it, the Hill reported.
Typical Homeowner in Foreclosure Hasn't Paid Mortgage in 1.5 Years: Today, the average U.S. homeowner being foreclosed upon has not made a mortgage payment in 17 months. Two years ago, the average U.S. homeowner that was being foreclosed upon had not made a mortgage payment in 11 months.
13% of All Houses Are Empty: The national vacancy rate is over 13%, and Maine is leading the way with 23% of its housing stock empty. In Florida and Arizona, two states rocked hard by the recession, vacancy rates are 17% and 16%, respectively.
Children in Poverty Up 2 Million in 2 Years: The number of children living in poverty has gone up by about two million in the past two years. This is one of the reasons why automatic anti-poverty spending has increased dramatically in the recession.
Half of American workers Earn Less Than $500/Week: Tax.com has reported that the median wage has declined to $26,261, meaning half of all workers made $505 a week or less - $37 less than in 2000.
Credit Card Debt Up 800%: Total U.S. credit card debt is more than 8 times larger than it was just 30 years ago, as stagnating wages and broader credit have pushed and pulled the middle class toward putting their basic payments on plastic.
$900 Billion in Student Loan Debts: Americans now owe more than $904 billion on student loans, which is a new all-time high. The site FinAid.org estimates that total student loan debt is increasing at a rate of about $2,853.88 per second.
1.5 Million More Bankrupt: One and a half million Americans filed for bankruptcy in 2010, the fourth consecutive increase in yearly bankruptcy filings.
52 Million Uninsured: Over the last decade, the number of Americans without health insurance has risen from about 38 million to about 52 million.
Medical Bills Behind 60% of Bankruptcies: Even the insured suffer. Medical bills are behind more than 60 percent of all personal bankruptcies in the United States, and most of those bankruptcies are among middle-class homeowners.
Household Wealth Falls 23%: Between 2007 and 2009 median household net worth in the United States fell by 23 percent. CNN reported that the median net worth of households fell from $125,000 in 2007 to $96,000 in 2009.
25% of Households Have Zero or Negative Net Wealth: Almost 25 percent of all U.S. households now have zero or negative net worth - in 2007, that number was just 18.6 percent."